HC Deb 24 November 1909 vol 13 cc240-5

Considered in Committee.


[Mr. EMMOTT in the Chair.]


"That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."


The Irish Land Bill was concluded very early, so that it would be a mistake to adjourn this Debate. I think it is in the interests of the Committee that the business down on the Paper should be discussed. What has happened is one of those incidents that may occur at any time. This is not a party matter, and I take it hon. Members opposite are just as much concerned as we are in getting useful legislation. Therefore, to move to report Progress at a time like this when Ministers have not had the opportunity of getting into the House strikes me as not being at all conducive to the best interests of business, and on that account I shall vote against the Motion.


I think this is the most scandalous contempt of the House of Commons that has ever been displayed, and this is the House which says it ought to be the sole arbiter. Let the hon. Member go across to the other building and see the way the other House is crammed. He will not find no Ministers there. He will not find a deserted Ministerial side of the House, but he will find people really intent on doing their work. I venture to ask the Parliamentary Secretary where the President of the Board of Trade is?


I express an apology to the House that the Ministers in charge of the Bill were not present at the exact moment they were called upon. Usually, by the courtesy of the House, a Bill is allowed to proceed until the Minister is brought from his room. I can assure the House that in a moment the President of the Board of Trade will be here to take charge of the Bill.


This is a Bill of profound interest to the working classes of this country. It is a Bill which all sections of the House desire to see passed in the interests of the friendly societies. It is a Bill in respect of which Members of all parties have been urged by their constituents to support. It is a Bill which has been the subject of very prolonged negotiations with the Board of Trade, but so little do the Government think of opinion in the country that they cannot even be in the House of Commons, knowing full well that this Bill might come on at any moment during the last two hours, and that despite the fact that Members supporting the Bill have been here de die in diem to attend to the Bill. It is nothing more nor less than an outrage upon the House of Commons and an insult to the working classes. I only hope that due note will be taken of the scandalous proceedings of the Government this afternoon. I can promise them that when I have a chance I shall draw the attention of my Constituents to the matter.

The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir Samuel Evans)

I think the hon. Gentle-

man has pitched his observations a little high. With reference to the Development Bill, we understood that there would be another Division on the Irish Land Bill. The Chancellor of the Exchequer and I were talking together, and if I had been sent for I could have been here in half a minute. I was in charge of the Bill on Report, and could have gone on with it now. As to the Assurance Companies Bill, there is no reason why we should not proceed with it. The President of the Board of Trade is the Cabinet Minister in charge of the Bill——


Where is he?


I do not keep all the Cabinet Ministers in my pocket. It will be remembered that I was present on the Bench with my right hon. Friend when we last discussed the Bill.

Question put, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 36; Noes, 196.

  1. CLAUSE 1.—(Companies to which Act applies.) 381 words
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